The Children’s Hour

Theater Participates in 2023 UIL One-Act Play Competition


Arguing with one another during the climax of the play, seniors Claire Poulter and Bryelle Swift perform in the public performance of “The Children’s Hour.” With some students acting together since middle school, the 2023 UIL One-Act Play Competition will be the last outing for some of the thespian seniors. “It feels completely surreal that this is my last show,” Poulter said. “Theater has been such a huge part of my life, this will be show number 22 in the past seven years, and leaving it all behind is super hard. I’ve loved the relationships I’ve made and the stories I’ve been able to share, I’m just super thankful for the whole experience.” (Photo by Anthony Luparello)

Anthony Luparello, Reporter

Lights shining upon the glaring stage, set pieces stacked atop one another, and actors articulating their lines in front of the audience: These are some of the many aspects that theatre put in their production of “The Children’s Hour,” a drama by Lillian Hellman. 

After a successful district performance with their comedy-orientated play “Suite Surrender” last spring, Thespian Troupe 6289 returned to compete in the UIL One-Act Play competition this year with their production “The Children’s Hour,” a play centered around a student named Mary Tifford, played by senior Makayla Cox, who begins spreading false love allegations surrounding her teachers Karen Wright and Martha Dobie, played by seniors Claire Poulter and Bryelle Swift. 

“I knew I wanted Martha from the moment I read [the script],” Swift said. “She has a story that, because the main theme of the play is that lying isn’t good, it can ruin things that are beautiful and all that stuff, but Martha has a specific story that I feel like a lot of people in history can relate to, and I wanted to give her justice and give them justice and tell her story.”

Acting since middle school, Bryelle Swift has been into theater for a while, landing many notable roles throughout both her middle and high school acting career such as Joy in “The Yellow Boat” and Claudia McFadden in “Suite Surrender.”

“To me, acting means telling someone else’s story,” Swift said. “I never see acting as lying. I see it as living someone else’s truth, and so it’s really fun having the opportunity to do that – especially if you understand a character – to do it well, like, that’s awesome. That’s all I could ever want to do is to make it believable and tell someone’s story.”

Alongside Swift, Poulter also stars in the play as one of the teachers, Karen Wright. 

“Karen is a very dynamic character that really finds her voice through the play,” Poulter said. “It’s super fun to get to be creative with that sort of personal development and self expression. I’ve prepared by really thinking about her motivations and shifting attitudes throughout the production.”

However, around a week before their first public performance, guidelines within the publishing company of “The Children’s Hour” had forced the thespians to cut out the first two acts of the show, causing a number of actors to be cut from the show, thereby making some roles much more crucial to the plot. This is what happened to senior Ben McDanald’s character, Dr. Joseph Cardin.

“My part became much, much bigger than it was before,” McDanald said. “It was really rough at first, I think we were all discouraged in the very beginning, but it got a lot better. It’s a lot of veterans who have done this before, and so if this were to happen any year, this is the year for it, and we’ll bounce back and it’s gonna be good. 

According to McDanald, the production process has been one of his favorites despite inconveniences with the script.

“[T]his has been by far my favorite process to go through, even with such a dramatic show,” McDanald said. “It’s great working with some of my closest friends that I’ve been with for all four years, and it’s been stressful, but it’s also been really fun through the stress and it’s nice to have people to go through it with. [One] of my favorite things about high school is one act play contests, [and] doing it every year. It’s been amazing, and we’ve improved so much. I’m cautiously optimistic about competition. Whatever happens, happens, but I know I got a great group of people to perform with, and it’s going to be good in the end.”

The cast and crew of “The Children’s Hour” performed in the Zone Competition on March 2 at Rouse High School and placed fourth, with Bryelle Swift receiving an award for best performer and Ben McDanald for All-Star Cast.

“There is an element of luck there with judges with what they’re looking for and what their personal opinions are,” McDanald said. “[Y]ou should respect the results and know that they’re not choosing these things randomly, but there is an element of luck and you can’t read too much into their decision and base your value [as a performer] off of what someone else thinks of you.”

Gaining inspiration from her mother, Bryelle Swift reflects on the process of doing one last performance for the school. 

“This play is really special to me,” Swift said. “Not just because of the character I got, but because of the cast and how most of it is seniors that started everything for me, and I’m really I’m just I’m very lucky and honored to act with these people one last time.”